The Southampton Town Opioid Addiction Task Force began in October 2017 because far too many people were dying from opioid drug overdoses. In the Town of Southampton, a community of 60 thousand people, there were 19 deaths in 2017. The nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction was hitting home. In 2016, 64-thousand people nationwide died from opioid drugs, that’s more than the number of people killed in the Vietnam War. And it wasn’t just an urban problem, it was spreading into every corner of the country, including the Town of Southampton.
It hit home in September 2017 with former News 12 anchor Drew Scott-a Westhampton resident. His beautiful 22 year old granddaughter, Hallie Rae Ulrich was found on the side of the road, the victim of a heroin overdose. Tests showed there were traces of fentanyl…a synthetic heroin that is now widely available on the street. When it happened to his family, many wondered if it could happen to theirs.
So the Town of Southampton Opioid Addiction Task Force was created to find solutions, to stop the epidemic. It started with a dozen people but soon it grew to twice that size and ended with 42 members on the Task Force. They were educators, medical professionals, people in recovery or people directly affected by the crisis.
The Task Force was divided into three subcommittees to develop recommendations for the Town Board. They were “Prevention”, “Enforcement” and “Treatment” and later a fourth subcommittee was added, “Recovery” to help people in recovery maintain a healthy lifestyle.